World Spine Day: 13 Worst Mistakes People Make That Cause Back Injuries & Back Pain by Dr. Gbolahan Okubadejo
An estimated one billion people around the world suffer from spinal pain and is the biggest single cause of disability. With more people working from home in a non-ergonomically correct environment due to COVID-19, even more people are experiencing back pain. World Spine Day on October 16 highlights the burden of spinal pain and aims to promote healthy activities, exercises or tools to combat it. Here are some of the worst mistakes people make that leads to increased back and spine pain:
- Not Maintaining Flexibility: Remaining flexible can help prevent injuries to the back, especially those related to some degree of muscle strain.
- Eating Carbs and Sugar: At the root of most low back pain is inflammation. Foods that cause your blood sugar to spike will only make the pain worse because sugar promotes inflammation.
- Smoking: Smoking tobacco products is the worst mistake to make because it greatly impairs your body’s ability to heal and stay strong.
- Standing When Putting on Pants: Putting on pants while standing requires bending and possibly twisting, not to mention hopping on one leg. All of these motions can increase your low back pain.
- Excess Weight: Extra pounds can strain the bones and muscles in your back, especially if you gain weight quickly. Do you best to maintain a healthy weight.
- Sleeping on the Same Old Mattress: Old mattresses have lost some of their firmness, tend not to support your curves well and lack some of the newer technology. Your old mattress might be causing or adding to your low back pain.
- Allowing Core to Weaken: If your core is weak, your body compensates so other muscles will help hold you up. Not surprisingly, this overarched position can lead to pain in your lower back over time, which is why lower back pain is another sign of a weak core. If your core is weak, your body compensates so other muscles will help hold you up.
- Wearing Bad Shoes: Your shoes provide support for your entire body, including your spine. High-heel shoes or flip-flops do not give your back support and may be contributing to your pain.
- Failing to Lift With the Knees: One of the most common causes of back pain is failing to distribute weight evenly, which is what happens when you do lifting with your back only. Whether it’s lifting weight while working out or picking up a heavy box, bending and distributing some of the weight to your legs reduces pressure on your back muscles while also helping to prevent serious injuries.
- "Babying" Your Back: Gone are the days of prolonged bed rest for back pain. Research has indicated that bed rest is one of the worst things you can do when suffering from back pain.
- Sitting Too Long at a Desk: Sitting tied to your desk for hours at a time can lead to lower back pain, the most common work-related back problem. Slumping back in your desk chair or slouching forward means your spine is out of alignment. Use a lumbar pillow for cushioning to help prevent yourself from collapsing forward or backward into poor posture.
- Taking Pain Meds Too Often: Pain meds do not heal injuries. Pain meds do not strengthen weak muscles. They mask the pain despite the injury.
- Using Heat Packs Prematurely: During the acute stages of an injury, the area will swell. Ice is recommended through this stage to reduce this swelling. Using heat in the acute stages of injury may increase swelling, causing more pain that can lead to an increase in muscle spasms.
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